Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, Africa Health Budget Network, AHBN, and Community Health and Research Initiative, CHR, has warned the Federal Government on the consequences of not increasing the health budget for Universal Health Coverage, UHC, in the 2018 Appropriation Budget.

At a press briefing yesterday in Abuja, to mark the Universal Health Coverage Day, Yusuf Nuhu of Evidence and Accountability Manager, EAM, said that with low health budget a lot of Nigerians would go bankrupt when they get sick.

Nuhu   said that the UHC day which is recognized every 12th December as the #UHC Day  is used to call on governments of all countries at all levels to step up actions that will provide equitable health care for all without any form of discrimination, adding that Nigerian government should follow suit.

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He noted that the 2018 Budget proposal already at the joint sitting of the National Assembly if implemented will  lead to improved life- saving investments in Nigeria in areas  such as immunization, family planning and Primary Health Care.

He however lamented that there was a decrease in the proposed 2018 health budget  saying, “the total amount allocated to health is N340.456 billion, out of a total national budget  of N8.612 trillion, adding that it represents about 3.95% of the total budget.’’

‘’When compared to the 2017 health budget , which was an aggregate sum of N308.464 billion being 4.15% of the 2017 federal budget which is the Federal Government’s commitment to the 2001 Abuja Declaration of allocating at least 15% of the total national budget to health is declining rather than improving.’’

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Nuhu pointed that the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, MICS/ National Immunization Coverage Survey which reported 33% Immunization coverage among children aged 12-23 months is among the lowest in the world.

He said that the low percentage is against the backdrop that $1 investment in immunization in Africa, $41 is gained in economic and social benefits, which means investing in immunization in Nigeria to our teeming children is the answer to national sustainable growth and development.

Chairperson of Track Health, Chika Offor further warned Nigeria’s  is transition out of some funding from partners like Global Fund, Global Alliance for Vaccine and Low Credit Loans from World Bank means that the country must increase its domestic spending to health, adding that the reality is the reverse.

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She also called on the National Assembly to influence the government to increase the 2018 health budget to at least 7.5% of the total budget and also make provisions for the 1% of the Consolidation Revenue Fund, CRF for the Basic Healthcare Provisions Fund, BHCPF.

She further called for the commencement of the legislative process to establish the Nigerian Immunization Trust Fund, adding that CSOs and the media should step up advocacy to political actors and policy makers to influence increased health budget that will positively impact on UHC.